livingwithmymonsters

WELCOME!

I have struggled to fight back against the anxiety and depression that has followed me around for most of my life. Through the process of creating art, I’ve found a way to give them a face and change my relationship with them.

On this site, you will find my comics and writing throughout my mental wellness and healing journey.

If you also struggle with your own monsters, please know you’re not alone.

I see them too.

Meet Anxiety & Depression

How do you draw something you can't see? Part of the challenge is separating out what you actually think and what Anxiety or Depression are saying to you. Mine are like ghosts. They drift in and out of my life and my day. Sometimes, I can see them, and sometimes I can't. Once you know what you're looking for, they're easier to find. So, meet my monsters.

Meet Creativity

I have an inner resistance to the bullying I get from Anxiety and Depression. My resistance is creativity. She is the forever optimist. The believer. The creator. Faith and hope. She is the voice that fights back and urges me to be better. Find a way to listen to your inner believer. They may change your life, if you let them.

The Declaration

Step 1: Declaration

I HAVE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.

Step 2: Own it

I have Anxiety and Depression. They are a part of me, but I will not let them define me.

Everything is fine

Finding yourself saying things are fine even when they’re not? Yeah, me too.

A funny thing happens when you finally tell someone (or in my case, everyone) that you’re not okay. You take the power back.

There’s some value in the “fake it until you make it” mantra, but I’m trying to live my authentic truth as best I can. I’m embracing my monsters as part of me.

I’ll get there. You will too.

The Noise

I call my anxiety the noise.

It’s like a stereo, sometimes it’s quiet, and other times, it’s blaring with the volume at 11. Anxiety will never really go away. There’s no magical off button or switch.

It’ll always be there, but at least I’m getting better at turning down the volume.

Feeding Depression

Depression shows up at weird times and often when uninvited. It can appear to people in all sorts of ways. For me, it affects my appetite a lot, meaning I don’t have one. Instead, I spend my time feeding self loathing, sadness, and fear to this monster who eats it up happily. Depression gets cranky and frustrated when he’s not being fed enough, always wanting more. 

Sorry Depression, you’re going on a diet.

I can wait

I see you, Anxiety.

I hear your sadness, fear, anger, and worry. If I ignore you, you just come closer and shout louder. So, I’m going to let you have your stage. Get it out. I’ll wait.

Eventually, you’ll tire yourself out. Until then, I’ll sit with you and wait.

Storms

Many of us experience depression as a dark, stormy cloud – an oppressive, bad feeling that follows us around. It pours down our insecurities, doubts, and fears on us. There is little shelter from its cold embrace.

These depression storms can create a mess in their wake. They upend our deep roots out of the ground; the things we believe in most, and turn them upside down. They blind us in the chaos of the pain of here and now. They’re disorienting and frightening. We feel isolated like we’re stranded and alone. We can get lost if we don’t keep our bearings.

Occasionally, we find an umbrella or can take shelter. Alarms and sirens announce the arrival of the storm. Sensing it coming allows us to prepare as best we can, but some days the storm will roll in quickly, and you get caught in the unexpected, torrential rain. Other days, it’s a light drizzle, and all you can do is experience the constant irritation of being damp.

Storm season will pass. After observing many, you may see the peaceful calm after a storm. The clean smell of rain rinsing away the dirt and debris. The new quiet feels hollow as if something is missing. Some see these storms as a way to cleanse the negativity that builds up within ourselves—a way to get through to brighter, drier seasons.

The lucky thing is, storms never last forever. You just need the patience to wait them out and sort through the pieces they leave behind.

Fighting back

These comics and art have been my weapon against Anxiety and Depression. It’s a way to articulate and express a very complex set of emotions. It’s my way of calling them out.

My pencil has become a sword, and my paper the shield, and now, they’re running scared.

Guess what?

They should be.

Progress

Progress: we can take huge leaps forward, keep a steady pace, or it can be a slow, drudging crawl to inch forward. Sometimes, it’s just about surviving the day. Growth cannot be measured in straight lines. As long as you keep moving, you’re doing okay.

Today, I’m celebrating progress: both big victories and small wins. If you’re also working towards a goal of any size, this recognition is for you.

Keep going. You’re doing great.

Come lay down

Depression is a needy bugger. Just like a well-worn stuffed animal, his embrace is a familiar, uncomfortable hug. It wraps around me tight. I feel the weight in my chest, neck, or on my shoulders. He begs me to come, sit, and lay down for a while. You have it rough; you’re tired, you should rest. His heaviness makes it hard to get up and easier to stay in bed. I feel the call of sweet, relieving sleep. I surrender to his pleas for company. Just for a little while D, I’ll come lay down.

Frustration

Frustration: with Anxiety and Depression, it’s endless.

Today, they’re throwing a party and wrecking the joint. Anxiety is running around in circles, amped up on the chaos. Depression is sitting in the corner eating snacks and generally lazing about. Between these two, it’s riding the highs and lows. So much to do and so little energy to do it with. Mental fog, fluttering heart, racing thoughts – chaos and noise that no one can hear but me.

Some days, it’s enough to want to pull out your hair. Anything to make it stop. Please! Make it stop!

The pest returns

I had a few quiet, noise-free days, and then, like an annoying pest, Anxiety came back. He must have been playing hide and seek, only I’m not looking for him, and he’s never invited back.

Just like when I was a kid trying to drown out the annoyance of my younger sibling, he makes me want to plug my ears and yell, “LA LA LA LA, I’M NOT LISTENING!”

I can be annoying, too, Anxiety. Just watch me!

Uncertainty

I find the unknown terrifying and difficult to navigate. Uncertainty gives Anxiety free rein to scream, “Hey! Lookout! Something bad will happen!”

He tries to keep me safe. He wants me to avoid all the bad things, but it’s difficult to live my life tiptoeing around trying to avoid every crack in the road. If we’re too busy looking down, we’ll miss out on seeing everything around us. When I’m able, I tell myself, “keep your chin up; your eyes toward the horizon, and keep moving forward”.

If you struggle, you're not alone.

1 %

OF THE POPULATION WILL HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS BY 40

1 %

OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES START IN ADOLESCENCE

Always

Remember...

You are loved. You matter. You are enough.